We are pleased to announce our first two keynote speakers, Dr Liza-Mare Syron and Dr Rachael Swain, and look forward to welcoming them to Tāmaki Makaurau and Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland.
Details of our final keynote speaker will follow soon.
Dr Liza-Mare Syron
Indigenous Scientia Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts and Media at UNSW, Senior Artistic Associate Moogahlin Performing Arts
Ngapa Yaan – Niibi Aanmitaagzi: Connection and exchange
In 2019, artists from two companies met to begin a cultural arts exchange project sharing stories of the people and country in which they lived and worked. The companies, Moogahlin Performing Arts, located in Redfern Sydney Australia, and Aanmitaagzi Big Medicine Studio situated on Lake Nipissing Ontario Turtle Island Canada, worked through culturally informed models of exchange and practice. The first, led by Aanmitaagzi artists, is a durational practice of story weaving, an investigative approach informed by a sense of unfolding and defined by a connection to people, country, and ancestors. The second model, led by Moogahlin artists is “our stories with your people,” a mode of interchange, of substitution and surrogation between artist from different cultures and localities. We gathered twice, once in Australia in 2019, and again in 2020 by zoom to undertake the creative developments exploring common themes of serpents and water. The first outcome of this exchange was Ngapa Yaan Niibi Aanmitaagzi (Water Speaks), a visual and spoken word digital commissioned work responding to two cultural stories from Nipissing and Murrawarri peoples for the 2022 Sydney Biennale. In this keynote, I outline the models of exchange that inform this project. I present and discuss the resulting work, and I describe the production design process that was informed by a curatorial practice based on “care and kin.”
Ngapa Yaan Niibi Aanmitaagzi (2022), Moogahlin Performing Arts with Aanmitaagzi, Sydney Biennale.
Dr Liza-Mare Syron has family ties to the Biripay people from the Mid North Coast of NSW. A theatre maker and academic, Liza-Mare is currently an Indigenous Scientia Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts and Media at UNSW. She is widely published in the field of Indigenous performing arts and has recently published a book on the Rehearsal Practices of Indigenous Women Theatre Makers: Australia, Aotearoa, and Turtle Island (Palgrave Macmillan 2021).
She is a founding member of Moogahlin Performing Arts, and as a key member of the company’s Co-Artistic Directorate for over ten years has recently been appointed Senior Artistic Associate.
Liza-Mare is recipient of the ADSA 2005 Phillip Parsons Prize for Performance as Research, the 2010 Marlis Thiersch Prize, and was given a citation in 2015 Rob Jordon award. As a theatre maker, Liza-Mare’s directorial roles include, The Fox and the Freedom Fighters (Performance Space 2014), Broken Glass (Blacktown Arts/Sydney Festival/Moogahlin 2018), The Weekend (Sydney Festival/Moogahlin 2019), Rainbows End (Darlinghurst Theatre /Moogahlin), and Gods Country (NIDA). In the role of producer Liza-Mare has presented Koori Gras a celebration of Black queer performance (Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras/Moogahlin 2017-2020), The Visitors (Sydney Festival/Moogahlin 2020), and manuwi jam ya murong (MCA/Moogahlin 2017). Liza-Mare also works as a dramaturge on various independent projects across the country. Her most recent artistic project is an international collaboration between Moogahlin and First Nations artists from Aanimitaagzi Nipissing Lake Turtle Island exploring serpent and water stories. The first outcome of this collaboration was a three channel video work called Ngapan Yaan Niibi Aanimitaagzi for the 2022 Sydney Biennale exhibition.
Dr Rachael Swain
Artistic Co-director, Director & Creative Producer, Marrugeku Theatre, Adjunct Senior Lecturer, University of New South Wales
10 snapshots from the family photo album — the making of Jurrungu Ngan-ga
De-bordering Australia: performing, living and sharing solidarity in a time of ongoing occupation, border closure, incarceration, boycott and global pandemic
Marrugeku’s latest work Jurrungu Ngan-ga meaning “straight talk” in Yawuru language, confronts Australia’s shameful fixation with incarceration by connecting outrageous levels of Indigenous imprisonment to the indefinite detaining of asylum seekers. Applying collective power, truth telling and horrific surrealism as bodily resistance the cast and creative team draw on their intersecting yet distinct cultural and community-informed experiences (Indigenous, people seeking asylum, transgender and settler) to shine a light on new ways to resist and abolish.
Reflecting and speaking as a Pākehā/Gadiya director of the work and family member of the team that co-created Jurrungu Ngan-ga, I will describe a series of critical moments from within the research, creation and presentation of the work conducted in a time of ongoing occupation, border closure, incarceration and boycott. Part family photo album, part unburdening on the possibilities and limits of solidarity and the intricacies of intersectional sharing— intimate moments of artistic production will be unpacked to discuss how new intersectional dramaturgies can emerge from staging resilience born of lived experience in contested land.
Jurrungu Ngan-ga (2022), Marrugeku Theatre, image: Prudence Upton
Rachael Swain is a Pākehā director, dramaturg and performance scholar of Scottish, Irish and English descent. She was born on the lands of the Ngāi Tahu, Aotearoa, and currently lives and works between the lands of the Gadigal (Sydney) and the Yawuru (Broome, north Western Australia). She is a founding member and Co-Artistic Director of Marrugeku, Australia’s leading intercultural and trans-Indigenous dance theatre company, working in close collaboration with Yawuru /Bardi dancer and choreographer Dalisa Pigram. Rachael specialises in directing intersectional and trans-disciplinary dance and theatre created through intercultural choreographic processes and with distributed models of cultural and performance dramaturgies. She has co-conceived and directed Marrugeku’s productions Mimi (1996), Crying Baby (2001), Burning Daylight (2006), Cut the Sky (2015), and Jurrungu Ngan-ga (2022) and co-directed Buru (2010) and Ngalimpa (2018) with Pigram. Her dramaturgy credits include Gudirr Gudirr (2013), the video installation Gudirr Gudirr (2021) directed by Vernon Ah Kee, Burrbgaja Yalirra 1 (2018) and the New Caledonian/Australian co-production Le Dernier Appel (2018). Together with various collaborators she has co-facilitated Marrugeku’s intensive practice based research laboratories in choreography and dramaturgy. Rachael gained a Masters in Advanced Theatre and Dance Research from DAS ARTS, Amsterdam and a Doctorate in Performance Studies from Melbourne University, titled Ways of Listening (2010). She was awarded the Australian Research Council’s first DECRA fellowship offered in the field of theatre and performance studies, which she held at Melbourne University (2013-2016). She is the author of Dance in Contested Land— new intercultural dramaturgies (Palgrave Macmillian, 2020), and co-editor of Marrugeku: Telling That Story—25 years of trans-Indigenous and intercultural performance (Performance Research, 2021). She is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer at UNSW, Sydney.
Days until Conference
Travelling Together as and With Communities
Huia O’Sullivan, Executive Director, Ngā Rangatahi Toa
Jacqui Moyes, Creative Director, Homeground
Dr Michelle Johansson, founding member of The Black Friars Theatre Company and Kaitiaki/CEO Ako Mātātupu of Teach First NZ
Facilitator/Chair: Dr Molly Mullen, Senior Lecturer, Waipapa Taumata Rau
How do performance makers travel together well as and with communities? Community arts and performance practices often claim to be non-hierarchical ‘safe’ places for mutual exchange. But this is by no means a given. The speakers on this panel discuss the mahi-work-craft involved in creating places where people can meet authentically. What needs to happen in and around a collaborative creative/performance process to enable a meeting of hearts and minds, support taha wairua, honour the wisdom each person brings to a process? How can performing arts processes bridge the barriers or gaps in the system, between schools and alternative education, prisons and probation…? How are these other institutions brought on the journey, without killing the soul of the work? The speakers will share approaches to making the journeys they are on with communities/participants sustainable, through collective mentoring, tuakana-teina processes and pathways into leadership roles.
Executive director, Ngā Rangatahi Toa
Ngā Rangatahi Toa’s executive director, Huia O’Sullivan (Te Atiawa ki Taranaki), has deep experience in youth development programmes and the issues and challenges that young people face in seizing educational and career opportunities. She has worked with Ngā Rangatahi Toa since 2016, first as Director of Engagement before becoming Executive Director in 2018.
Huia believes in working alongside young people and in the power of programmes grounded in Te Aō Māori to teach wellbeing and coping strategies. She has worked in positive youth development for over 22 years in wide and varied roles dedicated to a single purpose: to serve and advocate for young people while facilitating the process of them finding their own voices.
She has worked at the Families Commission, co-designing with community the document “Thriving in Practice” which is the current theory of change that is embedded in Ngā Rangatahi Toa’s work. When Huia’s not leading youth wānanga, creating or writing funding proposals, you’ll find her on her longboard skating, snowboarding or travelling.
Creative Director, Homeground
Jacqui Moyes is the Creative Director of Praying Mantis Productions. She has worked previously as the Arts in Corrections Advisor for Arts Access Aotearoa, and as an advisor to the Chief Censor of the Office of Film and Literature Classification. Jacqui has experience mentoring families engaged in social services, delivering and designing prison arts programmes, coordinating arts events, and has a background in community performing arts.
Jacqui manages Home Ground, an ongoing initiative that creates opportunities for women in the justice system to participate in high-quality arts process and practice. Home Ground uses multi-disciplinary arts practice (performing arts, perfumery, creative writing, raranga, clay work and more…) as a non-threatening, strengths-based approach to self-empowerment and community connectedness. Artists both inside and outside of prison are encouraged to create artistic responses to the issues women and whānau face in the justice system.
In 2020 Jacqui was a finalist in the Women of Influence (Arts & Culture) Award, and Home Ground received the Highly Commended Whai Tikanga Award from Arts Access Aotearoa. In 2019 she received the Sonja Davies Peace Award, and in 2017 was a finalist in the Wellingtonian of the year Arts & Culture Award.
Dr Michelle Johansson
Founding member of The Black Friars Theatre Company and Kaitiaki/CEO Ako Mātātupu of Teach First NZ
Michelle is a Tongan educator, theatre-maker, mother and former high school dropout. She serves as Kaitiaki at Ako Mātātupu: Teach First NZ, growing exceptional people to teach in low-decile schools. She is Kaiwhakahaere at Māia Centre for Social Justice and Education and the Creative Director of the Black Friars. South Auckland, decile-one born and bred, she is proud to work alongside amazing teachers, warriors, storytellers and change-makers to re-story Pasifika in the largest Polynesian city in the world, to activate indigenous knowledges, to grow future leaders and to hold courageous spaces for our young people to walk tall in all of their worlds.
Days until Conference
For abstract inquiries please contact Emma Willis;
For registration inquiries please contact Gemma Christall;